Seeing several clients each day can sometimes spin your head and make you lose focus. This week, I’d like to talk about a checklist I keep with me each time I talk to coaching clients. This list helps me to keep focused and allows me to understand what I need to do to help my clients. I think this list could be useful for you, too. Print it off—and use it daily. It will really help you get down to the nitty-gritty of what is important.
Build a Relationship of Mutual Trust
The foundation of any coaching relationship is rooted in your day-to-day relationship with your client. Without some degree of trust, conducting an effective coaching meeting is impossible. Try to make sure the relationship is one of working together, rather than working apart.
Open the Meeting and Take Control
In opening a coaching meeting, it’s important for you to clarify, in a nonevaluative, non-accusatory way, the specific reason the meeting was arranged. The key to this step is to restate — in a friendly, non-judgmental manner — the meeting purpose that was first set when the appointment was scheduled.
Find Common Ground and Agreement
Probably the most critical step in the coaching meeting process is getting your client to agree verbally that a performance issue exists. Overlooking or avoiding the performance issue because you assume the person understands its significance is a typical mistake of coaches. To persuade a client that a performance issue exists, a coach must be able to define the nature of the issue and get the client to recognize the consequences of not changing his or her behavior. To do this, you must specify the behavior and clarify the consequences.
Explore All the Alternatives
Try to explore ways the issue can be improved or corrected by encouraging the client to identify alternative solutions. Avoid jumping in with your own alternatives, unless the client is unable to think of any. Push for specific alternatives and not generalizations. Your goal in this step is not to choose an alternative, which is the next step, but to maximize the number of choices for the client to consider and to discuss their advantages and disadvantages.
Look for Commitment and Action
The next step is to help the client choose an alternative. Don’t make the choice for the client. To accomplish this step, the coach must be sure to get a verbal commitment from the client regarding what action will be taken and when it will be taken. Be sure to support the client’s choice and always offer praise.
Make Sure You Handle Those Ever-Present Excuses
Client excuses may occur at any point during the coaching meeting. To handle excuses, rephrase the point by taking a comment or statement that was perceived by the client to be blaming or accusatory and recast it as an encouragement for the client to examine his or her behavior. Respond empathically to show support for the clients’ situation and communicate an understanding of both the content and feeling of the client’s comment.
Provide Crucial Feedback
Effective coaches understand the value and importance of giving continual performance feedback to their people, both positive and corrective.
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